You’ve probably heard Erin Kinsey on the radio, thanks to her big hit “Just Drive,” as well as “Hate This Hometown,” “Better On Me” and “Drunk Too.” She’s just 21 years old, but Kinsey has been working on her country music career for a decade.¬†“I started performing out when I was 11,” she says. “So I couldn’t play in the bars for a while. But I played some of the restaurant honky tonk places and also the Opry circuit, which was really cool. There was a house band and you could go in and play your favorite cover songs. It was a great way to get my feet wet and I always look back on that time very, very fondly.”

When she was a little older, the Rockwall, Texas native started making trips to Nashville. “By the time I was in high school, I was going there almost once a month, I was making the trip up just to write with people and play shows. I graduated high school a year early and the next day at 6 am I was off to Nashville, and started pounding the pavement. I played every writer’s around. I would write with anybody who would get in the room with me. I was kind of honing my craft.”

She was working hard, trying to make it happen, the old-fashioned way. But modern technology helped a lot: “What kind of sparked things for me was I finally decided to listen to social media, and I hadn’t for a while. I’m not a huge scroller, so I wasn’t on social media [much] at the time. But throughout the pandemic, there was only one way to really get your music out. So I decided to post a few things and people connected with stuff way more than I thought they would, and it really changed my life.”

Fans will also note that she’s a co-writer on her songs, a point which she’s proud of. “Like with ‘Just Drive,’ my white Toyota is sitting in the driveway outside right now and I live off of Highway 40 in Nashville. It’s been cool to be able to really put myself in these songs and feel like when people listen to them, they’re not just listening to a song about a random person. It’s about me. And if they’ve heard the EP, they know a whole bunch about me. A lot of fun facts!”

One fun fact is that she’s a huge fan of the band Paramore, who she even name-drops in the lyrics: “You and me, this white Toyota/Paramore on the radio/Going 90, down 40/’Til there ain’t no road these wheels don’t know.”

“I was listening to them on the way to that writing session,” she laughs. “It was the band in high school that made me feel cool to know all their lyrics. And I’ve learned that I was not the only one. It’s been really funny: through social media, it’s been cool to find out how many other people feel the same way about them. With ‘Misery Business,’ and ‘Still Into You’ and ‘The Only Exception’… it’s been really fun to see that even though being a Paramore fan was something that I felt like made me so unique and special that it actually is the exact opposite! We are all a lot more alike than I thought.”

A lot of artists who are writers have songs recorded by other artists, and while she hasn’t done too much writing for other people, she does have a notable co-write. “The biggest thing I’ve done… it’s going to be hard to top, I’m very lucky to have been a part of this. A couple of years ago, I co-wrote a song called ‘Pink,’ cut by Dolly Parton. And not only just Dolly Parton, but also Dolly Parton with Sara Evans, Jordin Sparks, Rita Wilson and Monica. It was insane to have a song that I co-wrote with [writers]¬†Victoria Shaw and Jodi Marr recorded by those singers. It was for breast cancer awareness. I ended up getting to sing it on the Opry stage. It was my first time at the Opry, not in the circle. But it was insane, that was my first time on the stage. And it was so cool to have these artists that I looked up to so, so incredibly much, sing words that I wrote. It was such an insane feeling. Definitely a songwriter experience more than an artist thing, but hard to beat nonetheless!”

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This article was sponsored by RECORDS Nashville.